Chael Sonnen reacts to being ‘hand-picked’ as ‘an easy win’ for Anderson Silva boxing match

Chael Sonnen | Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chael Sonnen is fully invested in his third crack at Anderson Silva.

The longtime UFC rivals meet again this Saturday in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this time under boxing rules, and Sonnen is treating this matchup as seriously as their two previous middleweight title fights.

Despite the rule set seemingly favoring Silva, one of the most feared strikers in MMA history, Sonnen is not only unconcerned with the adjustments he’ll have to make, he’s also treating this as much more than a glorified exhibition bout for his opponent.

“Somebody said he would have the advantage for a boxing match,” Sonnen said at an open workout in Sao Paulo on Tuesday. “That might be true, I don’t have any idea. I had the advantage in MMA matches and he still found a way to get his hand raised. I don’t really understand the point when people say that. My anxiety would not be any less if this was a wrestling match, it wouldn’t be any less because I’ve been doing it my whole life. I would want to beat him, I would see the opportunity, I would be here talking to all of you guys, inside I would be very nervous, which is what I am now — it’s what I am for the boxing match, and I will never offer you an excuse.

“I will be devastated if I lose this match to him. There’s no part of me that will laugh or smile or think, ‘Aw shucks, this is boxing.’ I could not possibly care less what the rules are. I’m not planning to follow the rules anyway. In all fairness, I never follow the rules. I fought him twice, I cheated him twice, and then he brings me in here like he can trust me. Fool me once, shame on me; fool you twice, you know the expression.”

Sonnen and Silva have a storied history, with Sonnen nearly upsetting Silva at UFC 117 before succumbing to a fifth-round triangle choke, and then losing by TKO to Silva in their rematch at UFC 148. Both bouts were pay-per-view hits and an indelible part of each fighters’ legacies.

However, Sonnen has not won a fight since 2018, while Silva has found some success since making the move to pro boxing. Silva opened as -500 favorite in the matchup and one could assume that Saturday’s bout is a setup for Silva to shine.

Sonnen doesn’t disagree with the assessment, which is one reason why he’s happy to bring up plenty of his old jibes that he’s made at the expense of Brazil.

“They hand-picked me because they think I’m an easy win,” Sonnen said. “Then they keep acting like I’m supposed to come in here nice and be about respect and don’t bring in the mud and don’t bring up the computers, don’t talk about the time [Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira fed a bus a carrot. You know what, I made that story up. You want to know what really happened the first time I met Nogueira? He thought my phone was a pop tart, he took it and he bit it in half. I would have called and told someone about that or posted on social media, but you can’t really use your phone when it’s broken in half, it turns out.

“I think they did call me in [to be an easy win], and I bring that up because what an insult. There’s nothing nice about that. Why am I supposed to come in here and be polite and respectful? It’s a boxing match. The first rule to win a boxing match, damage. He’s literally invited me to his career-ending party, of which they’ve already started the parade, and I’m supposed to be grateful about it. Oh, by the way, we’re going to get in the ring and try to damage one another.”

Sonnen outboxing Silva to finally score a win over the Brazilian legend would be one of the most surprising outcomes ever seen in combat sports, but Sonnen isn’t going in there looking for a Hail Mary shot. He’s not going to approach this fight like their first two encounters either.

This time, Sonnen is practicing patience.

“If I was going to give you a prediction for Saturday night, I’m going to be out there for a while,” Sonnen said. “I’m not going to go out and try to knock him out with my power. There’s an expression in boxing, but it’s very true: If you look for the knockout, you will not win a decision. That was a mistake I made in the MMA fights. There was an urgency. There was an urgency to get him down because I didn’t want to be stuck on my feet with him.

“I didn’t want to be in that range. I watched what he did to Forrest Griffin, I watched what he did to Vitor [Belfort] and so many other guys, and I’ll be able to calm that this time. With the bigger gloves, I’ll be able to calm that. I’m not going to go out there and think I can put pressure on him and make him quit. I tried that twice and that’s not the strategy to beat Anderson.”

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